Sony Xperia X Compact review: Small and brave
Small and brave
It's hard to beat Sony's Album for gallery features
The Album app is among the most comprehensive and feature-rich gallery apps we've seen, it's fast and easy to use, too! Photos are organized by month, and you can use pinch-zoom to change the size of thumbnails (then they smoothly animate into the grid).
At the very top of the list is a slideshow, showing off your photos, lower down, the first photo of each month is shown at twice the size of other images.
You can instead browse photos on a map (you can manually add geotag info too) or by folder. This includes network storage so that you can view photos from a DLNA server (your home computer for one). Then there's integration with online albums - Facebook, Picasa, Flickr.
Image editing is handled by several apps, including Sketch and Sticker creator (so you can create your own custom stickers to send to your friends).
Sketch lets you fingerpaint over a photo or a paper-like texture, add text, stickers, photos and so on. If you're talented (the below screenshos shows where we stand), you can share your creations on the Sketch mini-social network, and if you're not, you can just browse what others drew.
Movie Creator is similar to the Assistant of Google Photos. It automatically creates short videos from the photos and videos you've shot.
You can do it manually too: pick photos and videos, change their order, add color effects and music (you get a small audio collection to start you off, but can use custom files too). Then tap the Share button and send out your animated slideshow.
The Music app feels like a part of the same software package as the rest of the custom Sony stuff. The contextual side menu offers much of the same browsing options - by folder, network folder and online services, in this case, Spotify (it's just a link to the Spotify app though). You can share music from the phone to compatible players.
The app can find the track's video on YouTube, look up info about the artist on Wikipedia and search for lyrics on Google.
The Music app offers a variety of audio settings - ClearAudio+ determines the best audio quality settings depending on the track you're listening to. We liked how it changed the sound and carefully accentuated various details.
Then there's DSEE HX, which uses an almost wizardly algorithm , which is supposed to restore or rather extrapolate compressed music files, like MP3s into high-res audio. According to Sony, the result is near Hi-Res Audio Quality, but it only works with wired headphones.
Dynamic normalizer evens out the volume differences across tracks, which is great if you've mixed multiple albums from multiple sources.
FM Radio with TrackID
The Xperia X Compact comes with an FM radio receiver and an app to go with it - and Sony's is probably the best one we've seen. It has nice visuals, pulls the stations' names over RDS and you can pick favorites, but also assign colors to group them - say blue for news, yellow for rock music, purple for house stations. FM radio only works with headphones attached to serve as antenna, but you can play the radio through the stereo speakers.
The FM radio app is tightly integrated with TrackID, too. TrackID is Sony's trusted song recognition software, which has since evolved way past that. It can now show you music charts by country, give you live updates on recent searches across the world, and store your search history as well.
The Movies app is gone, but the Video app has taken its place. It can play your local videos and videos on your home network, plus it has extensive subtitle settings. Additionally you can flip a switch and have videos played in the background.
Tell the app where you are, and if the region is supported it will pull info off the internet with TV schedules, shows currently airing and highlight of what to expect.
Audio output has its ups and downs
The Sony Xperia X Compact did greatly in the active external amplifier part of our audio quality test. The smartphone's output was clean and its loudness above average.
Plugging in a pair of headphones brings the volume down and adds some intermodulation distortion. Stereo quality worsens somewhat too but remains good, but overall the performance is only average on this occasion.
Here go the results so you can do your comparisons.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
|Sony Xperia X Compact||+0.01, -0.04||-95.1||92.1||0.0050||0.0088||-90.8|
|Sony Xperia X Compact (headphones)||+0.32, -0.11||-91.6||89.7||0.0078||0.209||-60.8|
|Sony Xperia XA||+0.01, -0.18||-93.6||90.6||0.0030||0.010||-91.7|
|Sony Xperia XA (headphones)||+0.85, -0.18||-87.1||87.8||0.018||0.327||-54.9|